Growing up in poverty, Melanie never thought she could have a career in the medical field. She left school without any GCSEs and became a mother of six children by the time she was 29.
Melanie said: “As a child, I looked up to those who worked in medicine with a sense of awe. I thought of them as superhumans with the power to heal and save lives.”
“I always felt like people had low expectations of me and treated me differently because of my background. But I never let those negative attitudes keep me from pursuing my dreams and achieving my goals.”
At the age of thirty, Melanie made a brave decision to shift her career path. After completing an access to higher education course, she pursued Physiological science at the University of Bristol. It was during the second year at university that Melanie realised her calling to become a Physician Associate.
“While I had considered postgraduate medicine, it was not a financially viable option for me as a mature student. The Physician Associate course gave me the opportunity to work in a clinical setting where I could diagnose and treat various clinical presentations.” Melanie told The PAT+PER.
The course was an immense challenge especially with financial difficulties, motherly responsibilities, and a pandemic to navigate. However, Melanie successfully completed the program now works as a PA in a busy GP surgery in Weston-Super-Mare.
“As clinicians, do we consider how poverty affects access to healthcare? We’re not doing enough to increase access for those in poverty and deprivation.”Melanie Wedgbury, Physician Associate
Melanie describes her job: “Some days, I manage patients in an acute clinic, while other days, I work within a multidisciplinary team in the care home hub. I have been warmly welcomed as a valued member.”
As the first Physician Associate to join the team, there were some initial concerns about the competency level of a PA, and the level of supervision required. However, these concerns were addressed through education and a seamless integration into the practice team.
Melanie says: “I have received positive feedback and am pleased to say that the practice plans to expand its PA workforce. It’s an exciting time, and I look forward to being a part of the growth and development of our field.”
“I no longer view myself as someone who doesn’t belong in the medical world. Life itself has been the best training, and I can empathise with my patients because I understand the world that they live in.”
Melanie is keen to use her life experience to support others. She conclues: “The medical world needs diversity at all levels to better understand the public’s needs. Becoming a Physician Associate is a great career choice to increase diversity and drive change in the workforce.”